Learn how we approach our new client onboarding.
Traditionally the new client onboarding process is defined as the process of getting new clients adjusted to the social and performance aspects of their new roles (within a project) quickly and smoothly. As such, many assume that this is a function performed at the beginning of any project.
However, it can be argued that on-boarding truly lasts the life of a project. It no longer means sending a few emails and conducting a project “kick-off” meeting. This process has transformed from a simple series of actions to a facet of project management that begins at the end of the sales cycle and ends when the project is finished.
Below are a few ways to ensure that your projects are not only successful but meaningful.
People do business with people - it's really that simple. The bottom line of good business is to practice a people-first approach, whereby you assess each client individually and address their specific needs. Throw out your cookie-cutter plans and instead spend some time determining what you need to know from each client in order to make your engagements successful.
Using a repeatable process that guides you through the nuances of each organization, will allow for a methodological approach that identifies, acknowledges and address clients fears, concerns, expectations, and goals.
The ink is dry, now what? NEVER wait until the ink is dry to begin building relationships with clients. It is extremely important to engage the client early on in the sales process. Mainly because it is at this point that we begin capturing the client’s concerns and setting expectations in relation to your roles in the engagement. We have to treat this process as part of onboarding so that when the contract is signed the client has a sense of what working with you and your team will be like.
This will ensure a very smooth transition between sales and delivery. Don’t ever assume that because a contract is in-hand (or even have a signed contract) that the new client in any way completely on board.
Once you’ve established your client’s goals, made actionable plans and set expectations, it’s time to get to work. Don’t wait, begin delivering on your plans immediately. If your client wants to see results in the form of metrics, present those numbers to them at the next check-in (and make sure the data you’ve collected is accurate).
If your client needs a product installation, get it done in the timeframe you set out. And maybe you won’t be able to reach the client’s end goal in a small amount of time -- that’s a given. Set little checkpoints along the way to mark successes.
Question? Do you have a system for managing projects, timelines, and deliverables?
One of the easiest ways to lose track of a project is by not having a communication plan. Not just a plan for the client to share information internally but a plan of communications that you and your team will have with the client. This schedule ensures that no project goes “un-touched” for an extended period of time and remains on the proverbial map.
The communication list can be standardized based on the industry and general experience. However, it is important to know how often your clients want to hear from you. With this information, you can build an effective communication plan that will not be lost in the clients' inbox. Keep in mind, every client is different and each communication plan should be as well.
One of the most important behaviors to adopt when working with clients is to LISTEN to what they have to say. Creating an environment that fosters constructive criticism is both beneficial to the success of the project and to you moving forward.
Here's why that's important.
Each client will give you an opportunity to learn something new - many times their suggestions add value and truly improve the way you work. A feedback loop is a bidirectional way of communicating that allows you to: you clarify expectations during the process and allow you and the client to make adjustment as needed. As time moves forward and you’ve established a strong feedback loop, you will ensure that the engagement is well-balanced -- that is, that you’re able to give to them while working your other accounts.
We know that the key to good business is making the customer feel like they’re the only one you’re working with, but that applies to every other client, too!